Recently I had a dream that was a very powerful and moving experience. In it, I found myself at a conference for broken and at-risk children. A woman participating in the conference came to me to complain about some of the children we had brought with us. While she was speaking, one of the boys walked by me. She proceeded to berate him—denouncing and threatening.
The child she had accosted was a boy in our care. He looked very young for his age because he had been horribly abused and malnourished. He was a little black boy who had been adopted, but the relationship failed, so he ended up in state custody.
As I began to speak to him in my dream, he took off running and yelling, “Leave me alone! Leave me alone! Leave me alone!”
Finally I caught him and got down on my knees to speak to him face-to-face. I grabbed him and held him tight—not in a disciplinary action, but in an attempt to calm him.
I said to him, “I’m just trying to love you. I want to help you.”
He yelled back, “I don’t want your love. I don’t need you! I don’t trust you! No one else wants me–why are you going to want me?!”
He continued to yell, “Let me go! Let me go!”
The strange thing was, as he was yelling, “Let me go!” he was clinging to me with all of his might.
I awoke from that dream, shaking with emotion and exhausted. I can still see the image of this child in my mind.
What’s worse, in our mentoring and residential programs, we have boys and girls with whom we’ve had encounters like this—but we keep loving them. I need you to pray we will be strengthened in our ability to continue to love them, and ultimately that they will come to believe.
Frequently children try to push us away, but if we could see into their souls, we know they are really saying, “Please love me. Please forgive me. Please help me.”
Don’t just love your children when they’re good. Don’t speak to them only to correct them, but also to articulate affection and show that you genuinely care for them.
Remember, we’re on a “Treasure Hunt!”